The results of the analysis are present in Tables 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, covering the period between the years 1995 and 2016. Tables 3 and 4 include the Tobit regression for the model presents in Eq. 1. To capture the effect and the extent of the international commitment, I use a dummy variable, the results for the Tobit regression are presented in Tables 5 and 6, the normality and the heteroscedasticity tests indicate the lack of normality and the presence of the heteroscedasticity (see Tables 5 and 6 where the CM test is recorded). For further testing and due to statistical purposes, the Tobit Multiplicative Heteroscedasticity (TMH) Regression is implemented. The reasons behind using this model are to check the robustness of the regression results in Tables 5 and 6, and to help in dealing with the heteroscedasticity which can be treated using this model (see Tables 7 and 8). For further investigation, the Random-Effects Tobit model is used which allows computation of individual-specific intercepts and helps in estimating the effect of dummy variable within a panel data analysis (see Tables 9 and 10).
Regression results show the significance of the dummy variable for both water and sanitation subsectors, that captures the influence of the MDGs declaration and the commitments of the donors in allocating this targeted ODA to increase the coverage and the access for W&S. The results of the different estimation methods showed the significance of the dummy variable that manifests the commitments of the international donors for this targeted aid (see Tables 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11). The dummy variable is highly significant at 1% significant level for both water and sanitation (Tables 5 and 6). This significance appears when the dependent variable is the total donors’ commitment for these two subsectors, so this proves the donors’ commitment in allocating aid for W&S since year 2000. The significance disappears when the dependent variable is the ratio of W&S aid with respect to total aid given by all donors. In fact, this finding is agreeable with the discussion in Donors’ policies in financing W&S section (see Fig. 2), where the ODA for water and sanitation subsectors is less than the ODA allocated for education, health and other social sectors (Winpenny et al. 2016). The dummy variables indicating the increase in access to safe water is obtained with the MDGs target when the ODA increased by 19 units (see Table 5). Table 6 reflects that when the dependent variable is all donors’ commitment for proper sanitation, coverage has increased by 21 units since the declaration of the MDGs, and the significance for improved sanitation disappeared in this table when the dummy variable is added to the model; this indicates that the donors’ interest in providing better sanitation is influenced by the MDGs targets.
For further investigation, the time trend is used in the model (Column 4, Table 11) which is significant at 1% significant level (column 4, Table 11) for both of the subsectors. An interaction between the dummy and the trend variables (Column 5, Table 11) is introduced to examine the effect of the donors’ commitment in raising the coverage for W&S in recipient countries (see Table 11). The interaction term between the dummy and the trend variableFootnote 13 is significant for both water and sanitation subsectors (Column 5, Table 11), this is an evidence of the increased interest in W&S after the declaration of the MDGs in the year 2000. The negative sign for both time trend and the MDGs dummy variables (column 5, Table 11) while the interaction term is positive reveals the effect of the international goals and the political influence in enhancing the selectivity of the donors for these two subsectors (see Fig. 3).
From the estimation results, we can see the impact of the ratio for all donors’ ODA for water with respect to their total ODA (ODA-commitment for water and sanitation/total ODA-commitment given by donors for all the sectors) which is found to be positive and significant at the 1% significance level for both water (Table 3) and sanitation (Table 4). These significant results are consistent in Tables 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 as well, and this indicates that the commitment increased by donors following the announcement of the MDG goals in 2000 that are followed by the SDGs, which dedicated target 7 for both water and sanitation, and thus, the SDGs committed the international community to expand international cooperation to develop water and sanitation subsectors. Through Goal 6, the countries of the world would facilitate the achieving of universal access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation and hygiene to all in the next years.
Aid commitment increased as a means for achieving the SDG goals. Tables 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 show that the improved water sources are significant at 1% significant level, and this means that the ODA targeting W&S indicates that a one unit increase in safe access to water is corresponding to 0.4–1.1 units in sector allocable aid (see Tables 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11), and a 1 unit increase in improved sanitation coverage which is significant at a 10% significant level is a result of 0.2–0.4 increase in donors’ allocation for aid for access to the improved sanitation facilities. If we look through the results in the tables, it is obvious that most of the donors’ targeted aid for water is working, but the negative sign indicates that the aid of the individual country is allocated to the countries with less or no safe access to water. France’s aid is not significant for safe access to water or to sanitation; however, the significance is clear for Government effectiveness, which indicates that France is donating aid in line with the international commitment but is not catching up financially with the new SDGs commitment for the new goals. Figure 4 depicts the effect of increased international commitment on the increase of the percentage of people with safe access to water, while the access to proper sanitation has increased approximately by 21% (from 1995 to 2015).
Government effectiveness and GDP per capita are significant for most of the donors for water and sanitation access; results indicate that a 1 unit increase in governance enhances the donors’ ability to allocate aid for water and sanitation with respect to total aid by donors by 1.3 units for water (Table 3) and a 1.5 unit for sanitation (Table 4), which confirms the belief that donors target aid in line with good governance in the recipient country. Tables 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 draw the same conclusion, adding that the dummy variable didn’t influence the significant effect of this governance indicator on the ability of the donors in allocating this targeted aid.
Results indicate that a lower GDP triggers the donations for water access and sanitation. This result is consistent with previous results from El Khanji (2018) who found that “the aid (for W&S) to GDP ratio is found to be significant at the 1% significant level for all of the recipient countries. The impact of aid is significantly positive in impacting on the population with access to improved water source”. In other words the poorer the recipients are, the higher the targeted aid for water and sanitation is. This reflects the interest of donors to contribute in reaching the SDG goals for water and sanitation. When the data for the donors is dis-aggregated, the results reveal that both the GDP per capita is significant for most of the bilateral and the total multilateral donors. And not surprisingly the governance indicator is significant for most of the donors, but what is highlighted here is the negative significant effect of governance for the aid received from the USA, which can be explained by the fact that much of aid received from the USA is for political reasons. Results give a hint that USA is recruiting the adoption of the international goals towards poverty alleviation as a good cover to pass their geopolitical agenda. In that regard, Harrigan and Wang (2011) found that the USA is giving aid based on their interest not on the recipient needs; 14.8% of USA aid is targeting recipient need and the recipient policy, and they also found that the USA is allocating aid based on geopolitically strategic regions (such as the MENA region, central America and the Caribbean). Moreover, according to Radelet (2003, p. 1), the USA bilateral aid is criticized for the lack of planning and its weak effect in the poor countries. From the results, the GDP per capita is not significant for the USA for both water access and improved sanitation (Tables 3, 4, 5, 6) which assists this concept that the USA gives aid with geopolitical intentions. Also, when the MCAFootnote 14 of the USAID was reformed to include strategic political partners such as Egypt, Jordan, Columbia, Russia and Turkey, recipient countries are not necessarily low income countries. As for the safe access, Japan, the highest donor for water and sanitation, together with Netherlands and USA are allocating the most effective targeted aid for water and sanitation.
The fact that I need to impartially highlight here concerning the USA allocated aid for W&S is that aid is working, and it is significant at 1% significant level for both water access and sanitation improvement. This is not a surprise as the USA was initiative in funding several health related projects in Central America and consequently in Africa where the USA was initiative in financing water and sanitation projects. In fact, sustained projects are a matter of questioning whether the recipient countries share the highest responsibility in sustaining the projects or not. This thinking is justified by the lack of sustainable management for the projects in Africa, compared to those in Central America and that is due to the slow growing economy and the high level of corruption that is reflected in institutional performances (Bossert 1990). In connection therewith, the preceding discussion can be an explanation of the disappearance of the significance effect of the GDP for USA aid and the negative significant sign for the Government effectiveness. Moreover, the significance and the negative sign of the dummy variable for the USA targeted aid support the interest of the selectivity of the USA in financing these two subsectors before and after the declarations of the MDGs.
Most of the international institutions are significant in improving water and sanitation, except for the multilateral and the EU institutes as well as the World Bank for both safe access to water and proper sanitation. The EU is significant at 10% significant level for sanitation and it is highly significant for government effectiveness for both water and proper sanitation that indicates that the EU is providing aid subjected to conditionality. The EU used to provide aid aligned with the level of democracy in the recipient country. Koch (2015) illustrated the political conditionality by studying the history of the EU in giving aid and how they changed from political rights to human and environmental rights by highlighting the conditionality beyond aid. Moreover, results are agreeable with what researchers implied about the World Bank, which is found to allocate aid based on merit based purposes, and they tend to finance projects that benefit foreign direct investors that invest in infrastructures (Nunnenkamp et al. 2017). Hayter and Watson (1985, p. 214) found that the bilateral donors and the World Bank have special interest in countries where they can interfere in their political system or can have any political gain for the organization. While they deprive countries where there is no possibility of political gain, this leads to volatility and consequently to the weakness of developing these two subsectors especially in the rural areas. The dummy variable for the effect of the MDGs for the EU institute is significant at 1% significant level (see Tables 5 and 6), and this indicates that the institute is committed to the international society in providing this ODA for W&S.
Although the Netherlands is the considered as one of the higher donors (4th most European government donor in 2012), it contributes highly for WASH projects around the world, and it is found to be insignificant in their aid for water access, while its aid is significant at a 1% significant level; however, the negative sign indicates their conditionality in providing aid, where good governance is a priority, which is apparent in the significant results for both water and sanitation aid, and it is obvious that Netherland aid goes for countries that are really in need. In fact, this is seen in the negative significant coefficients of the GDP per capita in the Tables. On the other hand, Germany’s aid is working properly and is significant for both water access and proper sanitation. It is expected to have a significant impact of Japan’s aid for water access, Japan is known as a highly contributor for water and sanitation projects and one of the highest donors, but Japan’s aid is not significant for sanitation which can be due to their selectivity depending on good governance level and the targeting of low income countries. Moreover, when the MDGs dummy variable is added to the model, it is clear that the dummy is highly significant for both water and sanitation; however, it has a negative sign which is confusing given the fact that Japan is a high contributor for W&S subsectors. This negative sign is explained by adding the interaction variable in Table 11 (between the trend variable and the MDGs dummy variable), so what is obtained explains well what happened when the dummy is negative; the interaction in positive and significant, while the trend variable with the dummy variable are both negative in the same model. Korea sounds committed to international agenda, and its aid is significant and working for these two subsectors. As for Korea, its aid is targeting places really in need while ignoring the level of governance (Government effectiveness in not significant).
Our results are in agreement with Thiele et al. (2007), so that most donors give aid to countries with better governance. That is applicable as seen for the SDG goal for water and sanitation. In general, results show that the combined efforts of the donors are affecting target 6 of the SDGs for water and sanitation. If we concentrate on the individual effort it becomes non-significant for most of the donors. Kanbur and Sandler (1999, p.29) explained how donors are in their shift towards sectoral development assistance, where it is characterized by individual projects, face issues like a weak impact on the sector, or maybe if coordinated between donors for these individual projects, it can cause a donor recipient gap for "policy makers in developing countries have been unable to get a clear idea of the totality of activity going on in any given sector. That is, even if the policy environment is a good one, recipient governments may not be able to coordinate the activities of donors". Moreover, there are some of the political reasons behind the weak results of aid for some sectors. Well, some governments favour a specific sector over another, whether that behaviour is from the donor country or the recipient country; in addition, political priorities can lead to allocating aid for overly served locations and sectors. The UK, for example, although its multilateral spending has increased from £109 m to £172 m (by 58%) between 2007 and 2011 for water and sanitation, its allocation for these subsectors remained accounting for 2% of its total given aid. That is also observed in the UK bilateral expenditure on W&S, which has increased by 70% (£84.5 m in 2010/11), and it remains at the level of 2% of bilateral donations (DFID 2012). The Off-track, Off-target (2011) report by the Water aid organization sheds the light on different reasons why aid is not focused on where it should be and why it is not reaching the deprived places most. "Aid is not well coordinated, is only loosely targeted according to need, and its effectiveness is constrained by red tape and lack of alignment with government systems. The sustainability of services rarely receives the attention it requires. These factors in turn undermine weak capability to capture, absorb and spend funds effectively, and lead to a vicious cycle of low investment and poor performance" (DFID 2012, p.6).
Observing the regression results thoroughly concerning the GDP per capita is highly significant and negative for most of the donors, but this significance disappears from some bilateral donors. In a comparison between the bilateral and the multilateral donors, Harrigan and Wang (2011) highlighted the fact that the bilateral donors are not caring about recipient’s need with respect to the multilateral donors. Good institution in the recipient countries results in a good sustainable management of the projects. Donors should be aware of the political institutions in the recipient countries; institutional corruption delays the outcome of the donated projects. Furthermore, Nunnenkamp et al. (2017) noted donors’ random selectivity and their lack for focusing on the locations especially the deprived locations that are really in need.
Some researchers argue that aid is flowing in the opposite direction for solving this dilemma. Kar et al. (2015), who run comprehensive assessment of resource transfers, explained how the recipient developing countries play a role as a tax haven for the developed countries, while the general figure shows that the rich or the developed country is helping the poor country. In fact, the reality is a contrary to what is widely known. Also, they discovered that the financial flow from the rich to a poor country is nothing compared to the flow in the opposite direction. They gave an example when in 2012 there was a transfer of $1.3tn of aid, investments from rich to poor countries, while that is accompanied with a transfer of $3.3tn transferred from the developing countries to the developed ones. Generally, about $16.3tn of money the developing world is contributed to the developed world. Mosley et al. (1995) commented on the ideology of bilateral donors, IMF and the World Bank, as being linked to market liberalization. I suggest that most of the bilateral donors are giving aid for these two subsectors particularly to transfer their technology and experiences to another recipient country. For instance, Germany and Japan, who are high donors for W&S are very advanced concerning their sewerage treatment technology and in their water treatment speciality. It is much cheaper for these bilateral donors to donate aid where they can save costs by using the already made technology, signing tied contracts for instalments and maintenance for W&S infrastructure for the recipient countries and keeping their international commitments at the same time which is agreeable with Kar et al. (2015) findings that aid is a cover for a reversed transferred funds.